American Airlines has begun to excommunicate members for signing up for their credit card offers. But what’s the whole story and do they have the right to do it?
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American Airlines Encourages Credit Card Sign-Ups
American Airlines, like every other major carrier, blankets their credit card offers on the home page, in their emails, in-flight – any time a traveler encounters the brand. Uniquely, American has two banks that offer Advantage miles for credit card spend (Barclays and Citibank.) Each has multiple products for both consumers and businesses.
American made more money from their loyalty program last year than they did from flying passengers and cargo to the extent that some investors on wall street asked whether the carrier should split off the program from the airline. Airlines make money from banks by selling miles to them. Banks make money from credit card swipe fees and interest.
American Shutting Down Accounts
Many in the frequent flyer community have reported that their American Airlines accounts have been shut down entirely on the basis of signing up for too many cards.
Some customers (that’s what they are, American) signed-up for multiple versions of the same card in 2018 and 2019 had their Advantage accounts shut down. Customers in this situation lose their miles, status and any other benefits associated with the account.
American Airlines Owns All of Your Advantage Miles and Controls the Accounts
It should be crystal clear that American Airlines controls and owns their program in its entirety but also owns your miles. If American chooses to change the program rules, repossess points, or disable accounts, they have full autonomy to do so.
While it won’t engender any loyalty in shutting down an account, it’s likely that American has determined at that point that they no longer want the customer’s business going forward because program violations are too egregious whether violations were committed wittingly or unwittingly.
Courts Can Do Nothing About It
For those that wonder what the legal ramifications are for the repossession of points, the answer is that there are none. Cases have been brought to trial against both Northwest and United. In both cases, the airlines have won. United even went so far (in a case about lifetime status) as to admit that the customer should not have trusted them and they had no intention of being a good actor in the transactions.
Where I find this particularly sticky is when points are sold. If a traveler earns points from flying and the program wants to alienate their customers, I can see how a court would decide that American holds all of the cards. In the case of selling points, I think it is less so. A transaction was made, and if those points are repossessed the airline owes a refund for the money paid by the consumer.
Points and miles earned from credit card transactions seem to have a similar real cash value concern but may fall in between what I see as 100% within the rights of the program, and 100% outside of contract law. Credit card sign-up and points earned from purchases are intentionally opaque. However, the government places a value on points earned for tax purposes. The government can’t say the miles and points hold a fixed value when they want to tax citizens or divide assets, but then claim they are worth nothing when a cash transaction has been made to acquire them.
Who Is Taking Advantage of Whom?
I can agree with American that some bad actors should be excommunicated from the program at their discretion. Kind of. If a customer exploits a loophole I can understand American’s concern. But it’s also kind of their fault.
However, there are three reasons why American is wrong.
- The carrier solicits (to no end) customer card sign-ups because the bank purchases a large volume of miles in one transaction. They flood consumers with the card offers at every turn. American flyers will be asked to sign-up for a credit card when they book, log in to their account, sit down at their seat, open the in-flight magazine, walk through the terminal, on TV, over the PA system on the plane and many, many more. If American doesn’t want members to sign up every time they ask, then stop asking. They have the data to tell whether a customer has the card already anyway, don’t they have a duty to utilize it?
- American doesn’t disclose that customers are only eligible for bonuses every so often in the headline pitch. Some consumers do not know credit card intricacies and don’t read the fine print when returning an application from their middle seat in economy. American knows this and generates revenue and profit (some quarters – their only profit) from such opacity. Other banks and airlines do a better job of this. It’s not fair to penalize a customer for consistently buying what you’re selling.
- It’s not really American’s problem. They aren’t the victim here, it’s their banking partners. If banks indicate that members have violated the terms of their sign up offer then it is the bank that should fight the consumer. Why does American even have a dog in this fight? They get paid every time a customer takes out a card earning a bonus – do they have to give the money back to the bank for the miles that were purchased?
What’s still stranger is that Barclays has no idea why American Airlines is doing this. Consider you’re Barclays for a moment. You pay American Airlines some amount between $500-700 plus the benefits you have to perform in connection with the card every time they bring you a new customer. Then, they shut down those new customers, keeping the $500-700 and angering your customers. Miles to Memories details a call he had with a president for Barclays, unaware this was taking place.
American Airlines is allowed to run their program how they wish until it violates the contract made with other companies, in this case, the banks. If the banks have an issue, they should claw back the bonus for violators as other financial institutions have done. A few years ago, Bank of America would allow seemingly unlimited sign-ups for credit cards. I knew one person with nine Alaska Airlines credit cards. That person is taking advantage of Bank of America, but Alaska benefits with every sign-up and has no reason to pursue the customer. American Airlines shouldn’t penalize customers for saying yes to their offers which costs them and the banks they partner with, money.
What do you think? Is American Airlines right to shut down those that continually get new credit cards? Do they have no right? Does this operate outside of the limitless program allowances granted by US courts in the past?
Kyle you failed to mention some key points…..the people who had their accounts closed worked a loophole for a Citi new member mailer that wasn’t targeted for them. Creating new AA accounts to generate a Citi mailer then using the mailer code on their old AA account when they applied. This, sir, is gaming the system and they got caught. No sympathy for them, they took a shot and got caught. That’s the risk they knew they were taking. Let’s not shed too many tears.
If you look at the link toward the end, some were having trouble as Barclays customers and Barclays had no idea what was taking place. I also agree that bad actors know what they are doing and should be punished (I stated that as well) but I am more concerned about those who are unwittingly signing up (not by putting cards in their blender’s name) and are extricated as a result.
I also think that if any of those folks purchased miles, those miles should be returned to their account or the amount paid. If you buy a shirt, Gap can’t take it back later without giving your money back. That’s a horrible analogy, but a purchase is a purchase.
AA doesn’t want them as customers. It doesn’t matter if they came from Barclay’s or Citi.
None of the gamers were profitable.
Also for your #1 point, AA has every right to ask for new CC signups, with their desired 48 months between bonuses.
They shouldn’t have to stop advertising because a small number of gamers.
For #2, it’s all covered in the term and condition. I don’t want every ad to have the fast talking guy in car and pharmaceutical commercials.
Gamers lost this one. There is plenty of other loopholes. Those that feel entitled to the gamed miles are the problem.
Mailers with 48-month language didn’t work. The current shutdowns relate to mailers that didn’t have the 48-month language.
False. That only describes some.
We have collected data points of thousands so far who have been shutdown. There a many different groupings – some like you describe but the following example groupings are not at all like that:
1) public citi plat select, public citi business, public citi checking bonus – 3 subs and shut down
2) #1 + a targeted mailer addressed directly to the individual which omitted the 48month language
3)#1 + Barclays aviator red
They have taken a scorched earth policy. And while I would argue that that those who got many subs were still in the right because their contract was with citi, I don’t have to defend that position to prove your position wrong with the examples above.
Your information is also false because neglected to mention those that got shutdown with 4 or more Citi bonuses in 2 years…and only those at SAME address with a more egregious gamer, even if they had less than 4 bonuses was also shutdown.
Your information is also false about those with small number of bonuses. You neglected to mention those that got shutdown also had another person at the SAME address that had 4+
Stop promoting hysteria and falsehoods. 99.9% are gamers exploiting loopholes got caught. There might be some anomolies, but I’m pretty sure AA had a profitability rating and all these account shutdown had negative value to AA.
Point of fact: Assuming that a “gamer” signed up (4) Citi cards in four years as you have suggested, American didn’t lose a dime. In truth, they profited significantly because Citi would have bought 200-300,000 miles for the bonuses during the period. While the exact rates aren’t published, industry analysts suggest a sale price of 1.4¢/mile or $2,800-4,200 for such a customer. Assuming they booked travel with those points in business class on American, the true variable cost per business class customer is around $35/person.
If Citi is putting pressure on American to do this, I can understand that but Citi still has the power to rescind/reclaim the miles and close their credit card accounts. Further, plenty of reports have come in stating that others who didn’t even have Citi accounts were subject to the same issue.
Huh? You think because a bank bought them from AA it was profitible?
You missed the major point because Citi bought miles from AA at 0.6 cents (guessing)…and people were using them on first class flights at worth 5 cents or more a mile…and shutting out AA frequent flyers from upgrades as intended by program…was NOT AA “profiting” as you describe IMO.
I can end some of the guesswork for you on the cost of miles: http://bitly.com/3aAx0HO
That suggests closer to 1.0-1.2¢/mile so at worst, $2,000-3,000 for our example. Your guess is low and doesn’t correlate to other verifiable numbers in the American Airlines 10-K.
Examining award costs, there is a difference between giving away an unoccupied seat and buying it from a partner. There isn’t much data I could find on oneworld. Assuming ANA first class (not the same as American Airlines business class which has far lower costs) New York to Tokyo actually costs $450 (http://bitly.com/32YvEUO), not what they could have made if they sell the seats at full price, but the actual cost. For example, the cost of the meal (on American, that cost is LOW), the Amenity kit, fuel for an extra 150-250 lb human and their bags, and the variable cost of lounge access (a few more cheese cubes, two more beverages, etc.). What you are describing is opportunity cost which, at American, is very low because they rarely release award space. (http://bit.ly/2kAzzoO) Your cost per award is also pretty high. American Airlines sells its Hong Kong route for $2500-4500 in business class depending on departure point and availability. Your valuation for that award would be $7,000 which is mostly inaccurate. They certainly charge that much on specific days, times and from Dallas but generally, that would be nowhere near the opportunity cost.
I was a cardholder for 23 years with excellent credit. I was cancelled after 10 years living outside of the u.s.My new card arrived 3 months before my cancellation.Reason: no u.s. address .
The promotion clearly stated it was open to US residents only, so why were you applying for it and why were you surprised? Were you surprised?
@George Did you even read the post? He was existing card holder for 23 years during which he could have been US resident. And at the time of renewal he might not have been. He didn’t indicate that he applied for new one and it could be just renewal.
Of course they hate the savvy people who can manipulate things to the advantage of the individual. The airline’s target, in cahoots with the banks, is those who are going to become hooked on credit and will never have a zero balance.
And , just like the banks, they’re predatory arseholes. Their behaviour is outrageous.
More’s the pity Elizabeth Warren won’t be in the top chair; but at least she’s going to be a significant voice at the table.
At the kiddie table maybe. She’s squirrel bait.
Did you even read the post? He was existing card holder for 10 years during which he could have been US resident. And at the time of renewal he might not be. So just dissing out why did he apply, doesn’t make sense
Sorry above post was meant for the other post not this sub thread (can’t modify/delete it now).
American Airlines is the worst of the big 3. Avoid them at all cost. Their loyalty program is awful compared to the others.
I’ve been thinking about these “violation of agreement” topics in general since the recent supreme court ruling in the Intel retirement plan case. It’s not directly related to this, but I felt like it hopefully opened the door to “just because something is disclosed somewhere doesn’t mean a consumer has actual knowledge.” I’m really hoping it starts to turn things in the “agreement” space. Companies create very convoluted terms with vast legal research that favors them, something the average consumer doesn’t have access to or knowledge of. Just giving consumers a multi-page disclosure doesn’t mean companies aren’t taking advantage. Yet when a consumer finds loopholes, they’re skewered. And to your point, this isn’t even about the gamers, it’s about unilateral decisions with no consumer recourse, after a company has profited.
I believe this is the case fo which you’re referring, but if not, please post a link.
Good luck if you think the current Supreme Court is going to move in favor of people over corporations. Corporations now have a higher class of rights than people do (average people not rich people). They are truly the best court money could buy.
At first I thought the gamers who signed up for mailer accounts deserved it.
But now I read into it, AA is stating that on each application/page the 48 month language is there, and apparently its not.
If true, this changes everything because it means AA is stating a circumvention of T/C that were not there at the time of such “gaming” activity. This will get interesting…..
In prior posts in different blogs, I’ve taken AA side on this one, using tempered, reasoned, logical arguments. The replies I’ve received have been ad hominem attacks of a sexual nature. “Eg: how dat AA boot taste.?” Enjoy your lifetime ban churners.
Why is everyone against gamers here? Are these mega corporations that elminated competition, decimated their programs and treat frequent fliers as üntermencshen so deserving?
It is the gamers that should be complimented for at least trying to punch back a little. Remember todays airlines are not and will never be your friends. I side 100% with those that are contemptuously called gamers here.
I’m a “gamer” and try reasonable exploit as many points and miles.
As a small biz owner, maybe I just don’t understand why any business has to subsidize an obviously unprofitable customer.
So unlike many who got sbutdown with an axe to grind, I just move on to the next.
I think the “rage” is most gamers had excessive credit cards on their credit report and there isn’t many gaming options for a while. Most other banks won’t give someone credit with 6+ personal credit cards in last 2 years like thise hitting AA loophole hard.
If you don’t like corporations, please, feel free to not use their services, but to scam them, you are scamming their investors, which include the regular folk and pension funds. You “gaming” them us theft, plain and simple. It’s theft with clear intent to deprive. That’s not even subjective. You know it is. You’re simply advocating for theft based on your “Robin Hood” complex, but Robin Hood was a fictional character who fought for those who have no options. When you choose to fly American Airlines you certainly do have options. That responsibility then rests on you.
Scamming them…they are for profit corporations i.e they take all customers money to earn profit. And if customers are just trying to earn benefits by using the same systems which are targeting the customers to apply and even processing and approving cards and allowing them to earn benefits it’s not customers to blame. It’s themselves, it’s not 20th century that they can’t restrict whom they target with offers, whom they approve for their cards. If they can’t fix their systems and business processes then stop the offers instead of blaming customers for trying to capitalizing the offers. Capitalist society should work both ways not just corporations And investors earning profits from customers (who are also regular folks), customers should be able to do the same as Long as its not illegal.
I’m flabbergasted by the number of people in this comments section who somehow think it’s AA that’s been wronged, and that AA is perfectly in the right.
Let’s not forget about the disparity of power here. AA is the big guy, with $Billions in assets and squads of corporate lawyers. The customers – yes, even the “gamers” – are the little guys.
AA made the rules. They’re AA’s rules. AA controls the T&C and all the IT infrastructure that enforces the rules. If someone is able to squeeze more from their program then whose fault is that – the $Billion dollar company that made the rules, or the little guy?
Is AA entitles to “fire” a customer? Sure, I guess. Do they get to take from that fired customer a valuable asset with no warning, no consultation and no recourse? Of course not; that would be kafkaesque.
I don’t really have a dog in this fight TBH; I haven’t lost my AA account and wasn’t churning Citi credit cards for AA points anyway. That said; AA has absolutely lost me as a willing customer, and I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one.
What does size have to do with anything? Try inserting some logic into your argument, then re-assess.
To examine if a situation is fair or not, you have to look at the facts alone. The facts in this case show that people violated terms of account openings and the airline chose to act on it and the ONLY reason people on these travel blogs are ticked off is because most follow these blogs to game the system to earn free bonus points (which are gifts, excluding purchase thereof) in order to fly (primarily) premium classes that they cannot afford to do by paying for it.
The frustration is understandable, but that’s like burglars getting mad at people for installing deadbolts. Deal with it!
AA is lying in its response to DOT at the moment. They are also “enforcing” the terms on the contract they are lying about and to which they are not a party.
AA is going to get hit from this. Guarantee it.
You do understand that legal filings and responses aren’t just “trust me, this is how it is” statements, right? They had to supply evidence.
True George, you would have to cite evidence in a filing. Evidence is not equal to fact. You seem to confirm Blue’s point. If AA is lying, then the facts found in court are likely to not be in their favor. In which case, they would be “hit hard.”
Without getting into any shouting match and back forth if i was on the jury i would find the churners in the wrong. If I was the judge i would find every statute i could hit the churners with to put them in jail.
Using a mailer not addressed to you because it says you can’t transfer it is a very specious argument. That’s is the argument that rapists can use to rape passed out women because they didn’t say no. It frankly depends on where your moral compass is but absence of a negative does not mean an affirmative and i hope the judge and jury will be on that page too.
I would have been tempted to use those mailers too, so this is not an ethical judgemeny on its use. But if you argue that what you did was right after getting caught, i guess i will be questioning your ethics and what ghetto you grew up in.
People might wonder why do i think so harshly about this. What skin do i have in this game. People that want to take everything for themselves by exploiting these questionable loopholes to the max make it more likely that the punchbowl is taken away from everyone, and in that respect you are hurting me as well and i hope you get nailed hard. If they had been more respectful and taking only that is needed and leaving some for others we wouldn’t have this problem. Classic capitalist mentality. So pay the price now.
Jesus, i knew this was a bait article i wasn’t going to resp9nd to it.
Please don’t use the word “ghetto” in that context as you clearly don’t know its definition.
This is one of the the most poorly written articles. The author left out that most of the problem was with Citi and the loophole that these gamers were exploiting… not Barclays. You go on about how Barclays people don’t know what’s going on, of course not this was a problem with Citi sign up loopholes, not Barclays loopholes. If you’re going to write about a subject at least know what you’re talking about.
Eunice, always great to meet a fan.
Data points suggest that some cardholders who didn’t have a Citi card at all were also shut down.
Doesn’t surprise me about AA. In the early 90s I had earned almost 20k miles and had planned to use them. They were earned before AA changed the program stating that miles would expire after a certain time, so my miles didn’t have an expiration….so I thought. I went to redeem them one day and they were gone. I called AA and asked what happened and they said they expired. AA never told me they suddenly had an expiration, never told me they were going away by xx date, they just disappeared. They essentially screwed me out of my miles and on that call to them basically said too bad so sad. I quit doing business with them because of that, and with the way they’ve been lately I probably made the right choice.
I have been earning and burning AA credit cards for 12-15 years. I’ve personally had 8 different AA cards in that time frame, along with another half dozen via family members. I participated in the old Citi-AA churn game before it was banned (I think around 3 times in 18 months). The saying has always been this: pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered.
Those that got too aggressive trying to get too many cards too fast will undoubtedly attract the ire of AA. For those that got busted, what was the number of cards they had in 12-18 months?
I feel very little sympathy for those who felt they deserved all those miles just because they applied and met the spending limit. Just because AA/banks spend tons to advertise the cards does not mean it automatically should be awarded to the same people multiple times. With that logic, then advertising anything can be an excuse for irresponsible or reckless behavior.
You are giving incorrect guidance and potentially legal advice, in the portion of your article which states, “courts can do nothing.” This can be considered unauthorized practice of law. It might be a good idea to remove this erroneous section. Courts may disfavor certain fact patterns but it’s far from conclusive.
Lol. I’ll take my chances.
I had a AA Citi almost a decade or before that. I received mailer in my name (no AA neither Citi card and not any travel card for miles). That was my first time venturing into earning travel miles through credit card (since I never had the lure with my business travel earning all my miles for flying).
I make 2 or 3 transactions (hardly 10-20 bucks) including one on AA for meal or something. After few weeks I try to login to my Credit card account, bam my account is closed (they didn’t touch my AA account), no communication no letters and no request for transacted amount. I don’t know if it was Citi or AA who closed. And I am a normal customer opening first travel card in my life.
From that point I don’t use Citi and AA (I am guessing based on other sites and experiences Citi is notorious about their risk systems/process going overboard or potentially flawed based on my account closure).
I get it why they might close accounts, however they are the cause of it. It’s then sending offers to customers, it’s them processing the application, it’s them approving it. Totally in their control until they approve someone.
If you don’t want your customers to utilize the benefits then don’t give them those offers (they can easily change terms to indicate they will deposit the miles after 1 year or after annual fees).
In this digital world if they can’t determine who is existing cardholder or who shouldn’t be approved, it’s lazy and haphazard way of enforcing their business process.
Also people thinking corporations are in the right, corporations (including investors) are really for “profit” so they are not only surviving but profiting from their customers and if customers wants to profit from them they think it’s not proper. Capitalism should work both ways as long as it’s not illegal. Just fix the AA Systems and processes and no one has to deal with this.
That is flawed. You do know if a ATM starts spitting out money, your are not entitled to it? If a Brinks truck has its door opened on the freeway and start spilling out money, you are not entitled to it?
They were committing fraud, pure and simple.
Dave I had similar experience. Back then in the early and mid 90s I had accumulated a whole lot of AA miles. After my trip was all planned out my miles just disappeared. I was very upset and tried to talk to AAdvantage customer service and all I got was that they can’t help me and those miles were gone for good. It was maddening. Up until then I had been a very loyal AA customer. The miles I accumulated were all earned. Back then there was no option to buy. Nowadays I would receive emails enticing me with Buy Miles sales. I would be even more angry to lose miles that I purchased. Because I had travelled with them so much, even though there were two more maddening incidents in addition, there were still some positive experiences and I don’t want to discount those. But AA is no longer my airline of choice. Thank you Kyle Stewart for the article.
So many pro-AA commenters here are laughable. Why are they even reading this blog? They should just be good little boys and girls who only own a single credit card and always keep a balance to make the banks happy. Because anything else is just “gaming” the system.
This is very unethical practice and it’s. More rampant than you think…..Home Depot engages in this same practice and guess who services Home Depot credit cards??? citibank. State AG’s need to review and protect consumers….and remember what happens when credit accounts are closed…credit scores take a hit!! Does anybody care about protecting the xonsumer???
Major. MAJOR fail on this article… I am DIRECTLY involved in the Aadvantage program and your article fails to mention that these accounts are being TERMINATED due to Fraud and program abuse clearly documented in the terms and conditions of the program. There are members opening MULTIPLE CARDS and multiple accounts and earning as many as 10-12-15-20 different 60K mile bonuses. They have found a way to beat the system and they are paying for it WHEN they are caught. Not if…. WHEN. Next time you might consider including all of the facts and not leaving out key details that might weaken your narrative. Unreal.
Some. But some have also been caught in the crossfire. I condemned bad actors in the opening, I’m sure you read that part. But there are also reports of people that did nothing wrong having their accounts closed. And while I think 10-20 cards is egregious, American offers 5-6 different cards that could look egregious but those are all different products with alternative features and benefits. Citi business, Citi Exec, Citi Plat are all very different from each other and from the Barclays product. If you live American Advantage miles and own a small business, and American advertises all of these products at every turn, wouldn’t they want their customers to sign up for these plus the Amex Business Extra? Should they have their entire accounts shut down because they say yes to every different product that American offers?
Thank you for the informative article and discussion that followed. There is a difference between taking advantage of the system as written (you used to be able to get a new card bonus every ~24 months or less with Citi and Barclays, and with multiple products, and if they offer it why not go for it) which should not be punished. Getting these bonuses using deception is another thing. The key is points earned legitimately should not be allowed to be voided by the airline.
Philosophically, airlines have very little “goodwill”. They threw away any goodwill with the torture-chamber economy seating and absurd change fees that take advantage of customers that need to change plans, costs the airline nothing and “earns” the airline $$$. Any attempt at generating real customer loyalty (such as with FF points) will be futile until change fees are trashed and comfort is improved.
It would really go a very long way if Airlines and Credit Card companies were required to put all major terms and conditions in plain English and concise terms. That is not the case now by any stretch of the imagination. There are few if any meaningful protections for consumers from banks in particular or airlines for that matter. On another topic a very important thing to keep in mind is how all the Airlines have taken advantage of their frequent flyer customers by changing their terms unilaterally to their benefit by devaluing the programs by huge amounts at our expense. They may have the legal right to do so but that does not mean it is right or fair and again very little in the US ensures that customers are treated fairly in anything. We all bear some responsibility by allowing our elected officials to keep pandering to big business and not the average consumer, I have no need to game the system myself but I can understand why some people feel the deck is so stacked against them they don’t see anything wrong with taking a chance.
I wonder if anyone who got audited by the IRS and had to pay taxes on airline miles gained from business use ever tried to use this excuse? I think the IRS has no basis in trying to tax mileage awards because it’s not owned by the business or you, so it is not earned income if this is true. If an airline is being magnanimous enough to give you a free flight because of how many points you have in their account and they own it, yet let you exercise when you want to use it, so be it.
Some of the claims made about the Credit Card programs and miles by flight attendants are clearly untrue and misrepresent the program. Aren’t credit cards regulated financial services? How can such claims be made by people with, obviously, no training in financial services representations? On a recent flight an AA flight attendant, as part of a several minute, mandatory ‘Advertisement’, said that there were “…no spending requirement…” to get all these Bonus Miles for signing up. Then he added “You only pay the $99 annual fee and make a purchase to get all these benefits.” I don’t know about you, but $99+ sounds like a spending requirement!
In that instance, the FA was correct. The annual fee is not a purchase transaction. That particular product activates the bonus once the annual fee is paid and following the first transaction of any amount. This is in contrast to other cards where there are an annual fee and a requirement of spending $X,XXX to trigger the bonus.
My issue is that consumers have NO rights in this game. The airline lobby is so strong that they have blocked any legislation. The only reason I fly one airline is for status and miles. The only reason I use that shitty CitiCard is miles and lounge (Closed the barclays when they devalued the benefits). So every dollar I spend on that card is a strategic decision – I earned those miles just like I earned a salary. If I cheat – then I deserve to lose the miles I cheated with (and maybe my account if it was really bad) – but I shouldn’t lose the true miles I paid for or earned.